Technology VIDEO

Highlights and first-person perspective of Baumgartner’s space jump


Ok, question: if you break the sound barrier, do you hear your own sonic boom? And was there a sonic boom in the first place?

Science VIDEO

Epic filament eruption on the sun, caught by the NASA SDO!

There have been plenty of other solar events in the last few years that the SDO has observed. Some of which have even had their effects felt here on Earth. But I’m not certain we’ve ever seen what appears to be quite so much energy leaving the sun all at one time. Here, courtesy of the SDO YouTube channel, is video including several filters of that massive eruption:

Science VIDEO

Carnegie boffin calculates the benefits of a low-carbon society, and the answer sucks.

Stewardship is hard. Like, really, really hard. And let’s face it: Americans have to have a gun pointed at them in order to deal with anything this hard.

Ken Caldiera at the Carnegie Institution for Science was approached by a science writer with a relatively straightforward question: if we got off our coal-burning, wasteful, polluting methods of energy production, how long before we felt the benefits of that change? The numbers suck.

In order to do anything that might be considered “repairing” the damage done by fossil fuels, we would basically need to completely eradicate coal burning technologies. And if we did that, we might start seeing the benefits somewhere around half a century from now.

Sleep tight. You can watch the video here.

Science VIDEO

Watch the #MarsCuriosity rover land on Mars, first-person perspective!

This is beautiful. From the moment the heat shield drops off the lander, the camera is taking photos all the way down to the surface. And now, the team at NASA has laced these images together into a breathtaking video of the landing, in full HD quality. Here’s what it looks like to land on Mars:

Science VIDEO

Clean behind your ears. The glymphatic system will clean between them.

Sometimes, there’s nothing more cathartic than taking out the garbage – even for your brain.

Neuroscientists at University of Rochester Medical Center have discovered a previously unrecognized system that drains waste from the brain. Dubbed the “glymphatic system” due to its similarities with the lymphatic system, but instead managed by brain cells known as glial cells, this new-found system brings hope for many brain conditions, including Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, stroke, and traumatic brain injuries, which are all attributed in some way to waste protein build up on the brain.

Here’s how it works – the highly organized system acts as a series of pipes, piggybacking off of the brain’s blood vessels to drain away waste products. Think of it as if the brain has two big garbage cans; the first one collecting waste through a gradual trickle, the second one under much more pressure, pushing large volumes daily to carry waste away more forcefully.

That’s a lot going on in our brains on a daily basis – so how were we unaware of all of this until now? According to scientists, the system only works when it’s intact and operating in a living brain, which had previously been extremely difficult. To study the living, whole brain, the team at U of R used a technology known as two-photon microscopy, which allows scientists to look at the flow of blood and other substances in the brain of living animals – in this case, mice.

This is not the first discovery to stem from this research at U of R.  Back in the spring, a similar study found that parts of the brain that were not cleaning properly could be to blame for ADHD.  This is all great news, though. Once a definitive  biological cause has been pinned down with certainty, then medicines can be created to treat the problem.

See? Your mom wasn’t kidding when she told you it’s important to clean!

PHOTO Science

NASA JPL reveals new satellite images of #MarsCuriosity

With new photos coming in every few days, you might think this could get boring. It won’t but you might think that.

The most amazing thing about the current batch of photos is just how well-documented the landing actually is. Several images reveal the Curiosity landing area and all its various parts, all predictably arranged on the surface. Enjoy:

PHOTO Science

Curiosity beams back amazing photos, stop-motion video of its descent onto Mars

The Curiosity rover is already paying dividends in amazing photography, as it has just beamed back a series of photos showing its descent to the Martian surface. The amazing sequence of snap shots includes a series of images of the heat shield that protected Curiosity for most of the descent falling away as the rover continues on with its mission. Even more amazing, NASA JPL put together a stop-motion video piecing together multiple shots into a single mesmerizing stop-motion animation of Curiosity’s descent which you can watch here.

PHOTO Science

Mars caverns, Earth’s lightning and Wyoming wildfire plumes

Great new photos this week from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs and the International Space Station! First up is a look at a quite unexpected hole in the ashy slope of Mars’ Pavonis Mons volcano. It appears to lead to an underground tunnel:

Photo and further info:

Next up is yet another phenomenon that we take for granted on Earth but have never seen from quite this same angle. Aboard the International Space Station, however, astronauts are able to take photos of lightning as it rains down on Vientiane, Laos:

Photo and additional info: Gateway to Astronaut Photography

Finally, while here in Rochester, we’ve had one little brush fire, other parts of the country are dealing with considerably more dangerous stuff. In Wyoming, a forest fire has consumed over 48,000 acres. NASA astronauts were also able to capture this incredible photo of a fire plume stretching over what looks to be a lonely stretch of flat land:

Photo: here
Science VIDEO

Ride a rocket: from launch to landing on a sounding rocket.

NASA’s latest SDO (Solar Dynamics Observation) video is fun! While most of us have seen lots of Shuttle launches and even the occasional iPhone-equipped weather balloon launch, its somewhat rare to see the first-person launch of a more conventional rocket. This one appears to be just about man-sized, based on the end of the video where one of the operators retrieves the rocket from its landing position among what looks like saw grass.

Unlike the relatively straight-forward flight pattern of the shuttle or other manned space craft, for a small rocket, the ability to spin on launch helps it maintain a straight flight path, in the same way that rifled bullets fly straighter, farther than non-rifled bullets. The graph at the side of the video does a good job of explaining where in the launch the rocket is as it goes, and as always, the view of the Earth below is just intoxicating:


Gen Y thinks using social media at work is worth more than pay scale? Really?

Does your employer allow you to Twitter all day long at work? Do they peek over your shoulder when you’re trying to update your Facebook status? did some research into what employers like and dislike about social media, and like much of what social media is, it tracks more or less with what you’d expect in any social situation. For example, if you’d like to talk a friend into taking a job at their company, they’re all for it. If you’re predicting your company’s imminent demise, well, maybe not so much.

But what’s really interesting are two key take aways from this infographic. The first is: real estate brokers apparently don’t like social media much. This makes sense, I suppose, given the fact that I don’t really know of a single realtor online who is actively shmoozing the Twittersphere. But still: what a weird-ass thing to avoid when your business is selling houses!

The second point seems a bit dubious: that Generation Y values the use of social media over pay scale. That probably speaks to enthusiasm on the part of those taking the surveys more than the reality of the situation. But I have to admit as an aging Gen X’er: I’d be pretty well pissed off if my boss told me not to do my social media stuff. By the way: the 50+ set regularly uses social media at work, too. Probably just looking at pictures of grand kids, but still..

For the record, you won’t read me saying the name of my company while I’m on any form of public webspace. That’s simply because I’d like to be able to say, “Fuck that up the ass,” without it reflecting badly on my employer…

Payscale News Infographic
Image courtesy of

Do Employers ‘Like’ Social Media? – Infographic – PayScale


History Science VIDEO

From Tahiti to the ISS, Venus’ transit, exploration and the passage of history

At this point, photos coming from the International Space Station on a daily basis has become routine. You do realize, dear reader, how truly amazing that is all by itself?

But for us science bloggers who weren’t able to view the Venus transit across the sun, the ISS is once again going to deliver an incredible consolation prize in the form of photos taken by astronaut Don Pettit from the Space Station’s cupola. As common as photos are from ISS, this set will still be significant in that they represent only the third set of photos taken from the cupola, which features exceptionally-clear glass windows for perfect photography.

And of course, this will be the first set of photos of Venus’ transit from space. As the video below does a great job explaining, the cultural significance of this moment is not without precedent, as Captain James Cook observed the last Venus transit from the recently-discovered island of Tahiti.

It was originally though that Pettit would be able to release photos in real-time, but that doesn’t appear to have happened, based on his Twitter and Facebook profiles. Hopefully, we don’t have long to wait!


Biggest bank heists, ever

Every once in a while, I get a request to post something to the site. Normally, those posts tend to be spammy, useless or just otherwise make me uncomfortable. But this infographic from Home Security System is pretty cool information from a historical perspective, so I gladly pass it along to my readers!

The World's Biggest Heists [Infographic]

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